Pallet DIY projects are found all over Pinterest, there not many on Pallet Flooring. However, we discovered that using the right pallets you can make a solid hardwood floor. It takes a lot of effort and it’s certainly not for someone who hasn’t used power tools before. On the other hand, it could be a perfect project for DIY enthusiasts. In this article, we are going to discuss all the steps required to build a pallet floor.
Where to Find Pallets
Thousands of Pallets are discarded into landfills every year, therefore finding pallets is not hard. Most small businesses will give them away for free however some Very large companies have a system in place to recycle or get rid of them.
Here’s are list of the best places to look for free pallets;
- Small Local Businesses – Garages, small warehouses, furniture stores, corner shops, bakeries basically most small size businesses. These are good for asking about free pallets, some places just dump them near the garbage for people to take.
- Social Media – Facebook Marketplace is an easy place for finding pallets. People list free pallet listings on there all the time. Craigslist is great for this too.
- Larger Size Businesses – Places like supermarkets, large warehouses, factories, etc. These places are more likely to already have a system for recycling or they sell them on. However, you can still find large companies that are more than happy to give you free pallets. If you find one like this you can have a steady supply of pallets.
The best option is to go to your local industrial area and try small local companies, this seems to be the best bet.
Choosing the Right Pallets
When choosing pallets, you only take the pallets which are fit purpose. To pick the right pallet follow our list of tips below;
- Avoid Pesticide-Treated Pallets – Avoid using pallets marked with code MB, they are treated with Methyl Bromide which is toxic. For more health reasons, avoid using old EUR Pallets and never use colored pallets.
- Look for HT Pallets – Pallets marked with code HT are heat-treated, these are the safest and best to use for making flooring with pallets. DB (debarked) & KD (Kiln-dried) Pallets are also safe to use.
- Avoid Rot & Heavy Damage – Don’t use rotten pallets or pallets which are heavily Damaged, however, if only a small area is affected you can just cut it and use the good parts of the pallet.
- Wear Gloves – Always wear work gloves when collecting pallets, protect your hands from splinters.
Once you have your chosen pallets at home, It’s time for the next step of pallet flooring, preperation.
The next step is Preparation, now you will turn your pallets into flooring planks. You will make sure they are straight, smooth, and ready to be installed.
- Clean & Dry – Once you have your pallets collected in your storage space you should clean the pallets from dirt. Make sure you store your pallets in a relatively dry environment so they can dry out throughout. If your storage space is cold you should use a heater to dry them out fully.
- Separate Pallet Parts – In this process, you have to separate the thin pallet planks at the top and bottom of the pallet. The simplest method is to use a reciprocating saw. Firstly loosen a plank at the nail spots using a hammer and utility bar, this allows your saw’s blade to reach the nails. Once you have loosened the plank, grab the saw and cut the exposed nails, once cut at both sides and middle, the plank is loose. Watch this video for the easiest method.
- Take out all Nails & Screws – Now that you have some pallet planks, you must remove all nails and screws. Do this by using a hammer, a utility bar. If some nails will not loosen up try a crowbar.
- Cut Sides & Fronts – Next you have to make sure that your planks are straight, you should cut a centimeter or two from the sides and front of the planks. The best tool for cutting planks straight at the sides is a table saw, and it’s quite simple to use too. All table saws come with a mitre guide which you can clamp set, simply set your guide, and run the plank through the blade. Make sure all planks are straight. Watch this video to learn how to use a table saw.
- Sanding – The last stage of preparation is to give the planks a good sanding. Don’t worry too much though as you will sand the floor flat after installation anyway.
Now that you have prepared your planks its type to install your pallet flooring.
After collecting and preparing the pallet wood, here comes the fun part, installation. There are two ways you can do this, it depends on your subfloor. If your surface is wood you can nail down the planks, if it’s concrete you can glue down the planks or fit a wooden subfloor. Make sure you remove any bumps or unlevel spots in your subfloor before installation.
- Nail Down – If you have a dry wooden subfloor then nails are the way to go for pallets. Firstly you should drill holes in the pallet planks for where the nails will go. This should be at both ends and in the middle of the plank. Next, you lay the planks into place and nail them down to secure them, make sure to sink the nails before sanding. Watch this video for this method.
- Glue Down – If you have a concrete subfloor you can glue down the planks, to do this however you need a special glue to achieve this. Watch this video to learn this method. Alternatively, you can install a new wooden subfloor on the concrete.
Great! Now that you have installed your pallet floor it’s time to sand the floor flat and get it ready for Finishing.
Sanding is the next step in the guide to Pallet Flooring it involves using power tools to sand down the floor to an acceptable level of flatness. There are certain power tools required for this process, most of these can be used by any beginner DIY enthusiast. Most pros will tell you that you can’t sand your own floors, however that’s not true, you can do it yourself but the result will not be as good as a pros. Here’s a list of power tools suitable for sanding DIY pallet floors, some more affordable than others;
- Makita Sheet Finishing Sander – Makita is known as a very reliable power tool brand in the construction industry. This Sander is easy to use and reliable, one of these will last you for years, we recommend all Makita Tools.
- Bosch Palm Sander – Bosch similar to Makita, is also a reliable tool Brand, this Palm Sander comes with a sanding pad, sanding disc, dampening ring, dust canister, vacuum adapter, and a carrying case.
- Skil Belt Sander – The Skil Belt Sander is an affordable Belt Sander for the DIY enthusiast, it boasts a 4.5-star rating on Amazon so it must be decent. Certainly not as reliable as Makita but a good option for the DIYer.
- Makita Belt Sander – Probably the most affordable Belt Sander on the market, these are quite pricey but can last even 30 years, a good investment for those that do DIY projects frequently.
- TackLife Detail Sander – This sander is the most affordable on this list. The TackLife sander is made as a fairly cheap tool for the DIY enthusiast. We can’t say this tool is reliable, let the reviews be the judge of that, Makita and Bosch are more reliable.
- Hire a Pro Floor Sander Tool – All the tools listed above are small affordable sanders, with these, you can get the job done but there are even better options. Most pros use large industrial size sanders, these are either large belt sanders or orbital sanders. You may find these for hire at your local trade stores such as Lowes, Home Depot, or HSS. Please note that hiring one of these can be quite expensive.
Please Note: All of these Power Tools come with warranties, make sure to follow the instructions and register your tool. if your tool malfunctions, you should receive a new one for free.
Watch this video to see how you can sand your pallet floor with a Belt Sander.
After the you sand the floor, its time for the last Step, Finishing.
Great, now you have reached the final step of the guide, Finishing. In this step you will apply a finish layer coat, there is a wide range of finishes you can apply, sometimes it’s hard to choose which one is best. Here’s a list of finishes you can apply to your pallet floor;
- Water-Based Polyurethane – Very popular, used often on hardwood flooring, easy to apply, low odor, and dries fast. Water-Based Poly creates a clear, high gloss finish, a good choice for some but the high gloss makes every scratch highly visible.
- Oil-Based Polyurethane- Good for high traffic areas, it’s durable and not very expensive, available in high gloss, semi-gloss, and satin. Resists moisture very well but tends to have a yellow tint to it which goes even more yellow over time. Also, it’s not the best for your health and it’s flammable.
- Wax – Provides a low sheen finish, little to no odor, dries very quickly, and can be applied over stains and paint. It can be quite labor-intensive to apply and can yellow over time. There are natural types of wax widely available such as beeswax.
- Penetrating Oil Sealer – This Sealer creates a low shine finish while highlighting the grains in the pallet wood. It is quite easy to apply and it brings out the best from your wood, also a natural product. On the bad side, it’s expensive, not very durable, and needs a recoat every 2-4 years.
- Paint & Seal – Paint your pallet flooring your chosen color using wood paint, after the paint dries apply wax for a low sheen finish or water-based poly for a high-sheen finish.
Overall Cost of Pallet Flooring
Here’s a list of all expenses required to complete the pallet flooring project, please note we left out the cost of pallets as we assume you get these for free. If you already have the power tools required then most likely your only cost is the finish coat.
- Floor Sander – $30 – $100
- Table Saw – $90 – $300
- Floor Finish – $40 – $200
Depending on the quality of power tools you buy and the finish coat you choose, the minimum cost of pallet flooring is around $160 to a maximum cost of $600 or more. This is including power tools.
DIY Pallet Flooring – The Pros & Cons
The Pros of Pallet Flooring
- Cheap Flooring Solution – Affordable
- Can give a rustic feel & add character to your home.
- Can be durable depending on the Pallets used.
- You can tell your friends that you made the floor only using recycled pallets.
The Cons of Pallet Flooring
- It’s very time-consuming.
- It’s labor Intensive, Hard Work.
- You don’t know exactly how durable it is.
- Some Pallets can be unsafe, you never know what chemicals have been spilled on them.
- Not very water-resistant.
Pallet Flooring In a Nuthshell
Creating flooring from recycled pallets gives people a sense that they are doing something good for the planet, rightly so. Doing it yourself gives you personal satisfaction when the flooring is completed and looks good, after this, you can show it off to your friends and family. Pallet Floors can be the perfect project for DIY enthusiasts.
On the other hand, the amound of work involved just collecting the pallets (nevermind theother work involved) is very time consuming. Some people assume it’s not that much until they actually start the project and realize the amount of work involved.
In a Nutshell, Pallet Flooring is certainly not for everyone, but for a passionate DIYer, it can be the perfect project and a cheap way to create an awesome looking floor in their home. What do you think of DIY Pallet Flooring, share your views in the comment section at the bottom of the page.